Are you one of the 85% of retailers using social media marketing? In an increasingly competitive industry, retailers are recognising the influence that social media has on the shoppers’ final purchase decision. A recent study looking at the shopping habits of young consumers has found that 1 in 4 shoppers turns to social media for inspiration before they commit to a purchase. How can you make sure that your social media activity has a positive impact on your sales?
Today we’ll look at the public’s main motivations for following a brand on social media – and how you can make sure you’re meeting their expectations across the most popular social networks.
In light of these statistics, consider how you currently use social media and if there’s anything you could be doing differently. Promoting your products is perhaps the most obvious benefit, but it’s easy to overlook the other advantages of the connected and instantaneous world of social networking.
It’s also important to remember that each social network operates differently and offers a different experience. What’s acceptable on Instagram might not be appropriate on LinkedIn. With that in mind, here are the main ways retailers use – or should use – their social media profiles:
Monitoring Conversations About Your Brand
We’ve seen that 48% of social media users share some sort of feedback about brands they use. These conversations will be happening on social media, whether you’re there to see them or not – having a presence on one or more networks will allow you to stay in the loop.
In terms of which social media platform is best for monitoring these conversations – you’re probably best to prioritise Twitter and Facebook as they have the most daily active users, but consider your target audience and what platforms they’re most likely to use. For example, Facebook users have a higher average age.
Monitor mentions of your brand and your competitors. By monitoring competitive mentions, you can also capitalise on customers who are unhappy with other brands in your industry. For an easy way to do this, check out Twitter lists – they’re a great way to keep an eye on the organisations and people that have relevance to your business.
Offering Great Customer Service
Not only can you observe conversations unfolding about your brand, but you can directly engage with existing and potential customers. 71% of consumers who have had a good social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others.
But be warned – social media is a double-edged sword when it comes to customer feedback. The 19% that will use social media to complain are not afraid unleash their frustrations publicly, and the instantaneous nature of social media means that people expect a much faster response time – potentially within an hour of posting online. The best thing to remember is that, despite the expectation to respond promptly, take some time to consider your response and don’t respond negatively.
Inspiring Your Customers
This part covers how to engage the 47% of your followers looking to discover new products and services. Here you can get creative with aspirational lifestyle shots of your bestselling products in action, or perhaps a video of how to use a product. Be as varied as you can while still sticking to your brand guidelines – and remember to include a call-to-action. Encourage enquiries, invite people in-store or drive traffic to your website. UK supermarkets are brilliant at this at the moment, sharing glimpses of inspirational recipes and cooking tutorials and encouraging click-throughs to shop these products online.
While this sort of content has its place on most social networks, Instagram, in particular, is a great platform for demonstrating the value of higher-value products with lifestyle images and videos. Remember though, Instagram users use the platform to share their own high-quality visual content. Your content needs to be at least as good as a savvy Instagram user, or you could end up creating the opposite effect.
Always remember – it’s not just about selling. People will accept that by following you, they will be exposed to a bit of advertising, but that’s not the main reason people go on social media. Retailers who use social technology to simply push advertisements and promotions could be potentially damaging their long-term goal by failing to act on the other benefits of social media. We primarily use social networks to communicate with friends and loved ones, to stay current on news and events, and to be entertained – the content you share should reflect these motivations as well as promote your brand.